We’ve finished up our Orange County and Los Angeles leg of the trip and are currently in Menifee, California, which is in the beautiful Temecula Valley. While in Orange County and LA we did SO.MANY.ESCAPE.ROOMS! During the eight days we were there, we managed to play 27 games! Some we loved and some we didn’t.
Our full list with brief reviews is below, but first we will bring you up to speed on everything not escape related.
States Visited This Leg: California Total Miles Traveled: 8,148 Total Escape Rooms Played: 75
We are finally in an RV site that is long enough to allow us to keep our patio opened up, so we have filmed our RV tour! In this short video, you will see the space we are calling home for at least 6 more months, AND you will also catch a few glimpses of Max, who is living his best life (Woof!)
Thankfully, we have not had anything break in the RV for a couple of weeks! However, we are struggling with the tire pressure monitoring system losing the signal while driving. It’s a safety system where we put sensors on each of the four RV tires that transmit pressure and temperature readings to the receiver in the truck. It’s designed to alert us if a tire is about to blow (another common occurrence on RVs), but due to the length of our RV (39’) it keeps losing the signal. We have purchased a signal booster, that we now just have to figure out how to install. Originally, we thought we could just plug it in, but, once unboxing it, we found out it has to be hardwired somewhere. Luckily, Curt is an expert on finding how-to videos on YouTube!
We did take one day off from playing escape rooms to visit Disneyland and California Adventure. It was Tina’s first time visiting and she had so much fun comparing the two parks to Disney World’s four parks. First of all, Cinderella’s Castle! She was pretty shocked to see how small the Disneyland castle is compared to the one at Disney World. Disneyland was the winner for the Space Mountain and Pirate’s of the Caribbean experiences though. She also really enjoyed the Spiderman Webslinger experience (somehow she managed to beat out everyone else in the car for the high score with her superior webslinging skills! Pretty amazing since Curt beats her on the Toy Story Mania ride every time). Disneyland also has an Indiana Jones ride, which is similar to Animal Kingdom’s Dinosaur ride, but even better. And, last but not least, Guardians of the Galaxy is our new favorite ride! The reimagined Tower of Terror ride is so much fun and some hilarious scenes with a great soundtrack! What’s not to love?
We also managed to fit in a few exCURTsions to Curt’s childhood hometown, visited with his childhood best friend and had dinner and played an escape room with his cousin and her daughter. It was a jam packed eight days!
One of the common themes among SoCal escape rooms is the 4 person minimum. Thank you to Liz, Craig, Blake, Kare, Andy (the CEO of Morty!), Shay and Keith for teaming up with us in various combinations to tackle several of the rooms. We could not have played so many amazing rooms without you!
Unlocked: Escape Room (Costa Mesa, CA)
This was an unplanned stop. We had some time and wanted to play some rooms close to where we were having lunch. This place was closed but Curt decided to try and get a hold of them to see if they would open early for us. To our surprise, they agreed. So nice of them!
Game On: Unlocked Arcade - This game was set in an 80s arcade. There were ticket games to play and video games to fix. It was designed for 3 or more players. The two of us did not make it out in time, but we had fun with the nostalgia and ticket games.
The Return of the Magician - This was a neat room that had a couple of surprises. It started with us handcuffed, and since that's how we met (handcuffed in an escape room) we didn't mind. We did a few magic tricks, solved a few puzzles, and Voila! we made it out in time. It was a fun room.
Hidden Donkey (Irvine, CA)
We played this escape room with Curt's cousin and her daughter. It was their first room.
Irvine School of Wizadry and the Dragon Wand - The beginning of this game was amazing and we were loving it. As the game progressed, it got less amazing due to the dim lighting, but, overall, it was a good room and perfect for our first-time game partners.
EscapeX Rooms (Irvine, CA)
First, the lobby and bathrooms here were a bit strange and chaotic. Our game master was not the friendliest either (which we later learned is a common complaint from others about EscapeX). We didn't have high hopes for the game we were about to play.
The Curse of the Black Knight – To our surprise we had a LOT of fun with this room. It was definitely on the easier side (we got out with 20 minutes left), but the decor and set were really well done and the puzzles were enjoyable from start to finish. When we came out we had a good conversation with our game master about other escape rooms in SoCal and he got much friendlier.
Mission Escape Games (Anaheim, CA)
The Ultimate Bank Heist - This was a fun game with a few things we hadn't seen before. Our game master was very friendly, and the set and puzzles were very good. We considered doing another game later that evening at Mission, but they wouldn't offer a same-day replay discount like so many other places do. Oh well.
Infinity Escape (Fullerton, CA)
The Magic Cottage - This was a magic-themed room that had really good reviews. We struggled so much with this one. It didn’t help that it started off very dark and only got slightly brighter after the first 10 minutes. We really liked certain aspects of the room and the game, but the puzzles and tasks were just not clicking with us. There were a couple of puzzles that seemed more difficult than they should have been due to worn props that were hard to read and low lighting. (We really struggle with low lighting.) We didn't finish - not even close. The game master offered us more time. Unfortunately, we had another room booked right after and had to go. She really tried to get us to stay and finish. At that point, we were frustrated with the game, the props, and our performance. We just wanted to move on to the next venue. This room gets a lot of good reviews, but the puzzles just didn’t click with us.
Escapement Rooms (Tustin, CA)
This was an interesting place. The game master station is right in the small lobby. There are three owners, and we believe they do all the game mastering, as well. The owner that was there did not seem very friendly at first. Once Curt started talking with him and telling him about our travels, he became much more affable. By the end of our visit, we were all laughing and having a good conversation.
The Tipsy Tailor - This was an interesting storyline. A clothing tailor is also a rival bootlegger and you have to try and find his secret stash. It was a great room with some very neat puzzles. It also had a scoring system. There were a couple of frustrating puzzles, and some excessive searching, but in this instance, it did not ruin the game. In fact, we really enjoyed our experience even though we didn't score 100% (but we finished the game in time).
Quest Tavern (Pomona, CA)
We should have known this place was a little different when the first person we saw was in costume. The lobby has a Dungeons and Dragons meets Asian fusion feel, which was a bit odd. We weren’t sure what to expect from this venue.
The Last Supper - WOW! This was an experience! Players are dinner guests of an adventurer who is possessed and now a cannibal. You are tasked with finding the relic that is responsible for the possession and freeing Lord Garrick from the demon. The space is on the smaller side. The game has a live actor playing Lord Garrick. It is creepy, at times scary, and a whole lot of fun. Curt enjoyed it more than Tina. Tina just wanted to complete the puzzles without interruption from Lord Garrick, but Curt felt that was half the fun. Our game master, Diego, did a fantastic job playing Lord Garrick.
The 13th Room (Pomona, CA)
When we got to this location the door was locked. Tina rang the doorbell. A minute later the game master slammed a piece of paper on the window that said, “Read the rules out loud”. On the window was posted a list of their rules, the typical rules you would find at all other escape rooms. It was strange to have to stand on a public sidewalk and read rules out loud, and it felt very unwelcoming. Once we were done reading, we were let in.
The Invisible Man – This game had some neat effects, a wow moment and(what we felt were a whole lot of red herrings. Little props and papers with information were everywhere. This is another game that gets good reviews. We liked it but didn’t love it. It’s possible that the whole start of a slammed note on the window and reading rules outside aloud set the wrong tone for this experience for us.
Stash House (Los Angeles, CA)
Similar to The Invisible Man above, this game did not have a “lobby”, but the owner/game master was much more welcoming, and he went over the rules with us as we sat on comfortable couches.
Stash House – This room was set up as a studio apartment. The game starts with a video of a drug dealer who is testing you to see if you have what it takes to be part of his crew. We enjoyed this game. It had some good, multi-layered puzzles. Curt liked the hint system. We finished in time and were happy that we got to play one of the more popular LA games.
Quest Room (Los Angeles, CA)
Quest Room has rooms that are well-reviewed. In fact, there were six games we wanted to play throughout their three LA locations. One thing that really put us off on Quest Room was that the game masters (at least in the two LA locations we went to) ask for tips at the end of the game. They point out their Venmo QR code and the cash tip jar. We often tip game masters if they do a really good job, especially if there is acting involved, but we don’t want to be pressured to tip. Because of this and their already high prices (especially for two people), we didn’t end up playing the other four rooms.
Red Giant – This is an Egyptian room that seems very Indiana Jones-esque. We love adventure-themed games. The set was very good. It was small and crowded, a little cramped for our party of four. The puzzles were on the easier side. There was a tech puzzle that was finicky and our game master didn’t jump in to help us out on it until we asked for a hint. That was a bit frustrating. Other than that, it was a solid room.
Da Vinci’s Challenge – Our whole group really liked this room. It has a split start, which added a bit more difficulty, and the set, décor and puzzles were all very good. We actually enjoyed this one more than Red Giant, even though Red Giant gets more love in the enthusiast’s groups.
Hatch Escapes (Los Angeles, CA)
Lab Rat – Your group starts off in a human-sized cage, and you get the feeling that you are a rat-sized human. You are being tested to see how smart you are. The researcher doesn’t have faith in you, though. After all, you’re part of Group D! This was one of our favorite games. It was fun, comical at times, a very large space, and had some creative and enjoyable puzzles. Highly Recommended!
Maze Rooms West LA (Los Angeles, CA)
Whatever Happened to the Garretts? – This room has been around for a while. Word around the campfire is that when it first opened, it got a lot of praise, but some feel it’s dated and doesn’t live up to many of the newer games in LA. We say, hogwash! We loved this game. The 80s theme of a family gone missing was interesting. We struggled on some of the puzzles. Not because they were bad or unnecessarily difficult, but because we failed to put the pieces together. Yes, there were a couple of puzzles that could use some better signposting, but overall, we found this game to be solid and enjoyable.
60Out Silver Lake (Los Angeles, CA)
Having had our own Houdini-themed room at the Escape Hatch, we are usually up for playing any room that is based on the famed magician/escape artist. Right from the beginning our game master was not friendly at all. Not a good start.
Houdini - Despite our initial impressions of this venue and the GM, we actually enjoyed this game very much. Many of the puzzles and tasks were directly related to escaping something. Tina had to recreate one of Houdini’s escapes, and it was one of the most surprising things that has happened to her in an escape room. It was very different than ours in Florida. We got out with around 15 minutes left, so it was on the easier side, but still very enjoyable. Word of warning, at least one member of your team has to be ok with darkness and enclosed spaces!
King’s Eye Escape (Westminster, CA)
This was a spur-of-the-moment booking. We had some time and this one was recommended by someone on Facebook.
The X-Traction – In this game, you are tasked with stopping a madman from blowing up everything. The game takes place in one small room, but the space is used very well and it had a lot of puzzles that we really liked. The game is kind of split into three, separately-timed sections which totally worked for this game. In the end, the story got a little convoluted (it had to be explained to us afterward), but the puzzles were interesting and enjoyable. If we had the time we would have played their other game, which was a sequel to X-Traction. Perhaps on our next visit.
Wild Goose Escapes (Fullerton, CA)
S.A.S.H.A.: Home of the Future – The AI in your smart home has turned evil, and your group needs to stop her. This was a hi-tech game that was non-linear. We divided and conquered, and because of that we got out with nearly 25 minutes left. Despite the easy level of the room, we enjoyed the puzzles and it was a great start to an epic day that included playing five rooms!
Scenario Escape Room (Brea, CA)
First, our game master, Nate, was awesome. Very friendly and engaging. We wished we had been able to meet the owner, he sounds like a fascinating guy. The games here are very original, as is the artwork and the music in the lobby and rooms.
The Mad Rapper – We loved the originality and creativity of this theme and game. The music was integral to the whole experience and had some great beats. We were told that the music was created by the owner. One of the props in the game did not work properly, but that didn’t detract from the enjoyment of this game. Highly Recommended.
Dr. Hader’s Cartoon World – This game was fun as well. The story was a bit convoluted. (We still aren’t sure exactly what it was all about.) The décor was fun and creative. We finished with 17 minutes left so we got access to the bonus puzzles! The bonus puzzles were a neat idea, but the puzzles themselves fell short of the rest of the room. No matter. We enjoyed the core game a lot.
Cross Roads Escape Games (Anaheim, CA)
This is the kind of place we were expecting when we came to SoCal, a lobby with its own little game, amazing rooms, and fantastic staff.
The Hex Room – This game is designed around the character tropes of teen slasher, horror movies (the jock, nerd, virgin, prom queen and rebel). Each player is given a role and locked into their own room. So, you need a minimum of five people to play this room. We each felt the anxiety of knowing that we had to do the puzzles in our rooms alone. Eventually, everyone got out and we helped each other with the few remaining puzzles until we were able to escape. It was very different from any other escape room we’ve done. We both like to experience the whole game and see all the puzzles, and we like to solve things together. This was not possible with this game since you primarily play your own room. The game does have replayability built in, but we would have rather seen all the puzzles during our time in the game. That said, Curt really liked the set-up and execution of this unique game. Tina also enjoyed it, but found the separation aspect a bit stressful. Word of warning, be prepared to have to solve your way out of your room mostly on your own!
The Weeping Witch – Holy cow! This became one of our favorite rooms ever. It’s a creepy game with some scares. Thankfully, we played with three others. Your team is tasked with banishing an evil spirit that mimics a weeping woman. Those who get close to her to see if she’s alright get their life sucked out. The puzzles are great. This hint system is fabulous. The set design is fantastic. But, it’s the appearances by the Weeping Witch that take this game to another level. It’s not a big room, but in a way, that’s better. Our game master, Ben, was superb. We can’t recommend this game more.
Escape Room Era (Anaheim, CA)
This venue is in an office building. We checked in at one office and then were escorted down the hallway to another office where the game took place…a game that was meant to be an apartment. It all just felt disconnected.
The Hide – Your team is tasked to gather evidence of a serial killer at his apartment while he is at church (of all things). When he returns, everyone must hide. This room was extremely dark, but that’s the idea. We’ll never understand why investigators go into creepy houses without flashlights in these escape room scenarios! This game gets a lot of love from enthusiasts, which we don’t understand. The puzzles are few and meant to be on the easier side since players are supposed to be on edge of the killer returning at any time. Curt mainly helped shine light when needed so he didn’t get to participate in the puzzles or see the ending. From his perspective, the game was boring. Tina helped with the puzzles, but, overall, didn’t care for the game either. It felt more like a haunt with a couple of puzzles than an escape room. On the positive side, the staff were really friendly.
Not Another Escape Room (Brea, CA)
Battleship – This wasn’t an escape room, per se. Instead, it was a head-to-head puzzle competition. The four of us were divided into two teams. After placing our ships on our board (just like the Battleship board game), we got time to complete as many puzzles as possible. For each puzzle completed we received between one and three cannonballs. Those represented how many turns we got to sink our opponent’s ships. We lost hard against Blake and Kare. They are both great with puzzles. We are…the okayest puzzle solvers ever. While this was a different experience, we both enjoyed it.
Cinema Escape Rooms (Los Alamitos, CA)
This venue creates games based on TV shows and movies, so we were very excited about it. The small lobby had a bench made from VHS tapes. It looked cool, but it was the most uncomfortable bench we’ve ever sat on. That was how it all started.
An Office Escape – If you’re a fan of the show The Office (like Curt is), you’ll enjoy this game. If you aren’t, you may or may not. There are a lot of references to popular episodes. The décor and set fit the theme very well. The problem we had with this game was that there was a lot of searching and hunting around for answers to puzzles. Many of the puzzles were not brain teasers, they were “find the answer or object around the room.” They had one puzzle near the end of the game that we really liked, though. Overall, it was a great homage to the TV series.
Ark of the Covenant – This was a Raiders of the Lost Ark room. It was a good game for those new to escape rooms. The walls were pretty bare and we both felt it could have used more décor or a better set in general. Overall, the whole experience at Cinema (from the time we came in, to the time we left) just didn’t match up to any of the other places we’ve played in SoCal. Our game master was friendly, though.
Brain Games (San Pedro, CA)
Treasure Island – This game starts off in a Tiki bar and ends as a pirate-themed game. While that may not sound all that great, it was actually pretty amazing. This game was filled with pop culture references, it was light and fun at times, and the puzzles and tasks were engaging and enjoyable (so many puzzles!). The hint system was fun, too. We loved this game, and think that this is the best “hidden gem” venue we’ve played so far. It’s gotten a few mentions on the enthusiasts sites, but it should have more. They have a new game opening soon, too. Go check them out!
Escape Room LA (Los Angeles, CA)
The location was horrible. LA, like many big cities, is struggling with an epidemic of homelessness and crime, which we saw a lot of while trying to find this place. The graffiti in LA is worse than any place we have ever seen. The venue is in the fashion district of LA, which is full of shops that sell all sorts of fabric and accessories to make clothing. It is crowded with items blocking the sidewalks, people everywhere, loads of construction going on, and lots of traffic. Parking was extremely difficult. There were parking garages around, but many were too low for our truck. We ended up finding a public parking area about 5 blocks away, which advertised a price and then charged us $10 more! Thank goodness, this was the last time we were going to be doing an escape room in Los Angeles.
Atlantis - We’ve played a few Atlantis-themed games, and as far as puzzles and set design, this was the best one by far. Unfortunately, it had a few negatives besides the location. The game master is in the room the whole time, which is just awkward. The puzzles were good, but there was nothing to write notes on. That would have helped out tremendously, but there is so much to do that with just the two of us, we didn’t finish. Another downside is that our GM wouldn’t show us the final reveal. Nor did he take our picture. He seemed very focused on resetting the room, and pushed us out, leaving us alone on the third floor of the building to try to navigate our way back to the first floor where we entered. One or two more people would have been perfect, especially since it’s a non-linear game for the most part. We did pay for the minimum of 3 people even though there were only two of us. Overall, we expected a little more for the cost. Had the location been better, we had something to write on, we’d been able to see the whole game and we got a team pic, we would have given this room a LOVE.
We are here for almost two weeks in the Temecula Valley, and we have some highly praised games lined up for this leg, including 40 Thieves at Mind Trap, Hope End at the Ministry of Peculiarities, Tree House at Confusion Escapes and Headcase at Breaking Point! Hopefully our brains aren't too fried from the last 27 games. Wish us luck!
Tina is a former city and transportation planner turned escape room owner and Curt is a podcaster/blogger/content creator for the summer camp industry. Their worlds collided when they were handcuffed next to each other in a pirate themed escape room while attending an escape room enthusiast meet up event.
Greetings from Traverse City, MI! Now that we have had a week to recuperate, we’re ready to give you a recap of our twelve state, thirty-five escape room marathon that we completed in just sixteen days!